How Huawei is accelerating digital transformation to support today’s smart airports

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Huawei offers a comprehensive transportation solution, which leverages ICT technologies to digitize all transportation elements

SHANGHAI, China,

In this special interview, DeeDee Doke, head of content production at Airlines. magazine interviews Mr. Wang Guoyu, Vice President of the Global Transportation Business Unit, Huawei Enterprise Business Group, about some of the developments underway at Huawei aiming to create a seamless passenger experience for all.

DeeDee Doke: Do rail, aviation, and other transportation modes collaborate on solutions to provide seamless travel experience for passengers? Are the industries still operating in silos?

Wang Guoyu: In fact, what you asked is just the current situation. And in my opinion, transportation operators, all of them realize the situation and almost all of them want to change the situation, break the different silos, and build the platforms. As you know, transportation moves passengers and freights in physical world, combining railway, subway, roadway, aviation and so on. Telecommunication moves data in digital world, through different data centers, applications and systems. Transportation digitalization will provide seamless journey for passengers.

This year, COVID-19 has brought significant impact. For example, it made online transactions and working from home into a new normal, which means digital transformation is becoming an essential need for many industries. The main challenge of transportation remains the conflict between increasing mobility demand and poor transportation efficiency. For instance, in many airports, punctuality is only 75%. In large cities, during peak hours, vehicle speed can be less than 10KM/h.

To improve transportation efficiency, MaaS (Mobility as a Service) for passengers and Multimodal Transport for logistics is more and more popular. It integrates passengers flow, freight flow, business flow seamlessly across multiple transportation modes.

MaaS, or Mobility as a Service is the focus of public transportation. MaaS is combining railway, subway, roadway and aviation to meet passengers’ travel needs, lowering the cost and improving efficiency. Technologies such as 5G, IoT, cloud, big data and AI will definitely play a key role in MaaS.

Huawei offers a comprehensive transportation solution, which leverages ICT technologies to digitize all transportation elements, including passengers, freights, vehicles, and business flows. This solution consolidates multi-source data into the unified data lake, so we can develop algorithm and data model, build an indicator system for scenario-based solutions.

DeeDee Doke: It takes a long time to achieve digital transformation. What should we pay attention to during the process?

Wang Guoyu: I think there are 3 points need to be considered.

First of all, for digital transformation, we need to begin with the overall architecture and design from top down. We have developed an innovative solution architecture consisting of three horizontal layers and three vertical business flows.

At the first layer is the infrastructure connection layer. 5G, IoT and machine vision can fully connect all objects, such as people, vehicles, and all the things, and streamline all airport service and systems. 5G can deliver enhanced performance, including higher bandwidth, lower latency, and more dense coverage, to support passenger online services and smart inspection robots.

The second layer is the platform. It is based on cloud, providing unified storage resource, computing resource and network resource. All these 3 resources are the basic digital resources. We use this unified platform to provide big data technology to facilitate data value, to mine the data value and to share the data service. And the third layer is the application layer. In this layer, we can gather ecosystem partners with extensive industry experience, and more AI-based applications. For passenger flow, cargo flow and flight flow, we need to identify key scenarios along these business flows, to develop scenario-based solutions.

Secondly, life cycle management is very important to digital transformation. It starts with consultation and planning, then proceed with system development and integration, and we need continuous operation and maintenance to help customer keep its industry position.

Last but not least, one tree doesn’t make a forest. One company also cannot achieve so much alone. Vendors, partners and customers need to work hand in hand to build an open ecosystem to realize this vision.

Huawei’s strength is within digital technologies, but partners and customers have the industry know-how knowledge. The combination of the two can create chemistry, and this collaboration of chemistry could potentially be the secret to success.

DeeDee Doke: How can we apply AI, IoT, and big data during airport digital transformation?

Wang Guoyu: The development of big data, IoT and AI will have significant impacts on the aviation digital transformation.

For example, Shenzhen Airport takes the lead in implementing intelligent stand allocation. Originally, it takes about four hours to manually allocate stands to over 1,000 flights every day and every night. The intelligent stand allocation system uses AI algorithms. We consolidate more than 60 operation rules to reduce the allocation time, and the result we can reach from 4 hours to one minute. So, we can improve bridge-to-aircraft docking rate and bridge turnover rate. After deploying this system, more than 2 million of passengers can board and disembark through contact stands instead of shuttle bus every year.

Shenzhen Airport also launched a flight support process system based on big data, which deploys IoT and machine vision to collect data on key ground support nodes, as accurate as 95 percent. This system monitors the whole flight support process, detects and handles exceptions in real time, and improves the airport’s punctuality rate.

The smart airfield ground light solution is another reference. We use IoT and AI technology to control the ground lights instead of manually. We plan the taxi path and detect aircraft conflicts. So, we can reduce aircraft taxiing time, increase the efficiency of runways and taxiways. Normally it takes at least 20 minutes from landing to docking. If 3 minutes can be saved for each flight, the taxiing efficiency can be improved by at least 15%. Shenzhen airport handles more than 1,000 flights every day, and this solution helps to save 3,000 minutes every day.

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